Why Cheruiyot Kirui Risked to Climb Mt Everest Without Oxygen - Friend

Cheruiyot Kirui on the Summit of Manaslu in September 2023.
Kenyan climber Cheruiyot Kirui on the Summit of Manaslu in September 2023.
James Muhia

Kenyan climber James Muhia, friend of Kenyan banker Cheruiyot Kirui who died on Thursday, May 23, while attempting to climb Mt Everest, has defended the climber's quest to brave the mountain without oxygen support.

Muhia detailed Cheruiyot's passion for climbing and revealed that he had ascended several mountains in the past without using protective equipment or supplemental oxygen. 

He referenced how they climbed to the summit of Mt Manaslu in September 2023, reaching 8,163 metres in the process.

"Cheruiyot did not just wake up and decide to head to Mt. Everest. This is him and myself at the summit of Mt. Manaslu (8163m) on 24th September 2023," Muhia remarked.

Cheruiyot Kirui during a past expedition.

"We climbed this mountain without supplemental oxygen and without Sherpa support. It was a climb to prepare us for Mt. Everest," he added.

Regarding Kirui's death during the Mt Everest expedition, Muhia explained that he was supposed to accompany him but pulled out three weeks prior due to personal reasons.

"I trusted him with my life on Manaslu. I did not have any doubts about Everest. He has accomplished things that I can only admire. Some I am sure I will never accomplish," he explained.

Muhia's remarks came amid criticism from the public on Kirui's decision in attempting to climb Mt Everest (8,849 metres) without supplemental oxygen.

"As you air your opinions on risks and all, it is important to remember who he is and what he has accomplished. We choose to honour him for who he is," he noted.

Kirui, aged 40 years and a Nepali climber, Binod Babu Bastakoti, aged 37 years, died close to Mt Everest's summit.

Kirui's Nepali-based guide Nawang Sherpa's whereabouts remain unknown as the search party continues on the mountain.

The quest to climb Mt Everest was followed closely as Muhia would post frequent updates about Kirui's status online.

"It is a sad day. Our brother is now one with the mountain. It will be a difficult time. Go well my brother," Muhia stated on Thursday following the announcement of Kirui's demise.

His family now faces the daunting task of raising over Ksh13 million in funds to repatriate the body from the heights of Mt Everest. 

Cheruiyot Kirui on a peak at a past mountain expedition.
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